What impact does Mrs. Jones have on Roger's future in "Thank You, M'am"?

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In Langston Hughes's short story "Thank You, M'am," Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones significantly influences Roger through compassion, care, and generosity. When Roger tries to steal her purse, saying it is because he wanted to buy some blue suede shoes, she brings him to her home, cooks him dinner, shares dessert with him, and hands him 10 dollars to buy his shoes. At that moment of his life when he encountered Mrs. Jones, Roger was living on the streets as an abandoned orphan, as we see when he tells her he has no family, no home, and no dinner waiting home for him. Although her kindness only lasts a moment in his life, it will influence his life forever because it serves as a major eye-opener.

At the moment he encountered Mrs. Jones, Roger was about to embark on the destiny most street children embark upon, a life of crime. However, Mrs. Jones alters his life's direction by not taking him to the cops out of mercy and showing him compassion. She particularly shows him compassion when she informs him that she, too, has "done things" she would be too ashamed to tell Roger about or even God about. She further shows him compassion when she says that, when she was young, she too "wanted things [she] could not get." In saying these things to him, she opens Roger's eyes to show him he isn't really alone in the world--other people have been in the same boat he is in and have risen above their circumstances. Since he now knows others can rise above their circumstances, he won't fall into a life of crime; instead, he'll be strong, courageous, and find ways to develop a better life for himself.

In addition, Mrs. Jones hands him 10 dollars to buy shoes, probably the only money she has at the moment, saying that all he had needed to do was ask. More importantly, the money she gives him is to buy pretty, decorative shoes, not shoes out of necessity. Her generosity allowed him to see that there are people in the world who are compassionate enough to be able to see that peoples' wants can be just as important, sometimes even more important, than their needs; it allowed him to see what he has never seen before in his life--some people really do care.

In addition, her generosity allowed him to see that when he does have needs, all he has to do is ask for help. Since he now knows that he can ask for help, even for help fulfilling wants, not just needs, he won't fall into a life of crime in order to survive. He'll find other means of survival.

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In Langston Hughes's "Thank You, M'am," how did Mrs. Jones's confession influence Roger's actions?

After Mrs. Jones’s confession, Roger tries very hard to make sure that she trusts him.

In this story, a boy named Roger tries to steal the purse of a woman named Mrs. Jones late one night. It is hardly your typical purse-snatching though.  Instead of Roger snatching Mrs. Jones’s purse, Mrs. Jones snatches Roger!  She notices that he is not a hard case, but really just a boy with a dirty face,  so she takes him home.

Once at her house, Roger has a few chances to leave.  She asks him to wash up, and he has to choose between running or going to the sink.  He decides to go to the sink.  Now that they have established some trust, Mrs. Jones tells Roger a story.  She lets him know that once when she was young, she did some things she regretted.

The woman was sitting on the day-bed. After a while she said, "I were young once and I wanted things I could not get."

She tells him that she has done some things that are between her and God, and looks at him carefully to see how he will accept this confession.  She is aware that he is thinking that she is still judging him for stealing her purse.  However, when she begins to open up to him, he begins to open up to her.  He starts to sit so that it is clearer that he is not trying to run.  He wants her to know that he can trust her.

But the boy took care to sit on the far side of the room where he thought she could easily see him out of the corner other eye, if she wanted to. He did not trust the woman not to trust him. And he did not want to be mistrusted now.

He even asks her if she needs anything from the store!  They eat dinner together, and she tells him all about herself but does not ask him questions about himself “or anything else that would embarrass him.”  She knows that there is no one at home at eleven at night, because he already told her.  That tells her all she needs to know.  That is why he is out stealing purses.  He had told her that he wanted shoes, and so before he leaves, she gives him the money.

This is the story of two people from similar backgrounds that find each other in a difficult situation.  They each need something from one another, and learn to trust one another.  They become friends, in a strange way, for a time.  This is a direct result of the fact that Mrs. Jones took a chance on Roger, and knew how to open up to him.

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In Langston Hughes' short story "Thank You, M'am," how well do you think Mrs. Jones influenced Roger?

Langston Hughes' short story “Thank You, M'am” tells the story of a boy named Roger who tries to steal the purse of a determined but kind woman named Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones.

As stories go, this one is pretty straightforward. Hughes isn't trying to make things challenging for the reader with any hidden meanings or obscure symbolism. His purpose in this work is simply to show how a good woman, through an act of unexpected kindness, brings about an important change in a young man's life.

The story opens when Roger attempts to steal Mrs. Jones' purse. But he is no match for her physically, and she drags him back to her apartment where she proceeds to speak to him pleasantly and offer him food and drink. Roger is surprised by her behavior, and quickly changes his attitude, wanting her trust him. We see how he changes in this passage:

. . . the boy took care to sit on the far side of the room where he thought she could easily see him out of the corner of her eye, if she wanted to. He did not trust the woman not to trust him. And he did not want to be mistrusted now.

Here we see that Roger now actively wants the trust of the woman he just tried to rob. Hughes' use of the word “now” at the end of the sentence implies that the woman has done something to bring this change of heart about.  

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